25:23 the Lord said. God often displayed His sovereign control through prophecies given on the threshold of new historical eras: Adam and Eve (3:15); Noah’s descendants (9:25–27); Abraham (12:1–3); Jacob and Esau (27:27–29, 39, 40); and Joseph and his brothers (37:1–11). See Introduction: Characteristics and Themes.
older shall serve the younger. Jacob owed his supremacy to sovereign election, not natural rights (cf. Deut. 21:15–17). The prophecy found fulfillment as Esau’s descendants, the Edomites, were often subjugated by Israel, and at last were included in the Jewish state during the intertestamental period (1 Sam. 14:47; 2 Sam. 8:13, 14; 2 Kin. 14:7).
God’s choice of Jacob (the younger) over Esau (the older) is a paradigmatic example of divine sovereign election (Rom. 9:9–13, 18–23). God deals justly with all, but He has mercy on some (Matt. 20:1–16).